How to Hire and Retain Good Employees in 2020

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With record-low unemployment, hiring and retaining quality employees continues to be a challenging task for companies of all sizes. The following strategies can help your business attract—and keep—top talent.  

At a time when the number of job openings in the United States have surpassed the number of available candidates for more than five years, every step of the hiring and retention process is fraught with uncertainty for employers.

On the flip side, many prospective employees express bafflement at the increasingly technological hiring process. Resumes, scanned by computers, disappear into black holes while candidates wait weeks or even months to learn their job application status following interviews.

Clearly, there’s a disconnect in the hiring and retention process that leaves employers, employees and job seekers frustrated. Fortunately, there are strategies employers can utilize to find, hire and retain employees who will add value to their organizations.

A challenging talent pool

It’s no exaggeration to say there’s a talent war across America in 2020. That’s because a shortage of skilled workers in the right places has made employers more competitive with each other to fully staff their organizations.

To succeed in this job market, you’ve got to think outside of the box to discover the people who are best fits and will thrive in your company’s culture.

For C2FO, a financial technology company based in the Kansas City area, finding a diverse range of people with the right skills in a competitive tech market is a challenge. But there’s more to the recruiting and hiring process than that. Candidates need to be a good fit for the company’s culture as well, said Kimberlie Jordan, C2FO’s human resources business partner.   

“Finding the right skill sets and how they can be applicable to the goals of C2FO takes time,” she said. “Evaluating fit for our culture is a competing priority when evaluating candidates.”  

Finding people who are the right fit continues to challenge employers nationwide. Hovering at 3.5%, U.S. unemployment is at its lowest rate since before the Beatles broke up. The current economic expansion has lasted more than 10 years, entering record territory in July 2019, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Overseas crises and trade wars have failed to disrupt this run of economic growth.

During this period, unemployment has steadily fallen, luring even the long-term unemployed in from the sidelines. And after years of suppressed wage growth, employees are looking to not only increase their wages, but also find more job satisfaction.

In a recent survey by software company TINYpulse, 43% of respondents said they’d consider leaving their companies for a 10% pay raise from another company—up from 25% of respondents in the previous survey. Baby boomers are staying in the workforce later in life than previous generations, according to Pew Research Center. That’s contributed to more job mobility among Gen X and millennial workers who are seeking career advancements.

At a breakfast meeting of financial executives sponsored by C2FO in November, all five of them agreed that finding and hiring qualified workers was a big concern for their companies in 2020. Retaining those workers, once they are hired, is nearly as challenging. “The trick is getting them to stay long enough to learn to do their job,” one CFO said.

The bottom line: it’s more challenging than ever for employees to recruit top-notch employees and win their loyalty.

Here are creative strategies for hiring and retaining employees who can keep your organization ahead in the competition for talent:

Three hiring strategies

In a candidate-driven market, you can’t afford to manage a job placement search at a snail’s pace, forcing applicants to endure a mind-numbing and lengthy interview process.

Recruiting and hiring the best employees means marketing your organization proactively and packaging your available job opportunities appropriately. These three strategies can help:

Speed up the hiring process

You’re probably familiar with the customer experience. Welcome to the “candidate experience.” Ensuring that your organization offers a consistent, attractive and speedy job interview process goes a long way to keeping talent moving into your organization.

The candidate experience begins when a prospective job applicant first interacts with your company and progresses through the application, communication, feedback and interviewing process.

Technology is a key component of a successful candidate experience across organizational channels. Clear and consistent organizational communication and feedback keeps the process moving and creates more of a likelihood of a successful hire.

Implement recruitment marketing

Recruiting doesn’t begin and end with job listings. It is now an ongoing iterative process described as “recruitment marketing.”

Recruitment marketing is designed to build ongoing awareness, consideration and interest in candidates before and during the hiring process. By maintaining awareness of your organization and its positive working environment, you can attract individuals to your job openings.

Leverage social media

Connecting with and learning more about prospective candidates through social media can give organizations a leg up in the recruiting process.

Finding potential candidates who aren’t necessarily looking for a job but who might be valuable to your organization is a natural role for social media, especially LinkedIn. Chatting on social media platforms makes it easier to build a relationship with a candidate that can lead to a successful hire. 

Social media is also a powerful tool for elevating your company’s brand and name recognition with potential job applicants. Creating posts that explain your company’s mission and unique culture—and encouraging your employees to share those posts—can expand your reach and influence when seeking talented workers.  

Three retention strategies

With workers looking to job-hop more frequently, the pressure is on employers to become more creative with employee retention. Here are three effective ways to keep employees motivated and fulfilled in their new jobs.

Offer a clear path to advancement

Employees want to be challenged, and they want to grow.

Younger workers are seeking advancement more than perhaps any other single job characteristic, but over half of employees feel unclear on their promotion and career paths, according to this Gallup report. From clear opportunities for in-house advancement to employer-sponsored professional development or graduate programs, a glimpse of a bright future in your organization that can be realized over specific periods of time is key to retaining motivated, focused employees.

C2FO’s Jordan said team members at her company appreciate a company culture that is transparent, has clear expectations and values their contributions. 

“They expect us to provide an atmosphere where they are empowered, they want their voice to be heard and to be rewarded for the impact they make on the organization,” she said.

Create a nurturing corporate culture

When employees believe that their employer cares about them, they are more willing to invest back in that employer.

A recent study by research firm DDI found that only 40% of frontline managers were rated as proficient or strong in empathy. That’s a big problem at a time when workers crave strong company cultures and also have plenty of employment options.

It’s essential for companies to have management that will treat employees like people, rather than assets from which to extract productivity. While many view empathy as an innate prowess that you either have or you don’t, the fact is empathy is something that can be practiced and improved. Managerial support is a critical predictive factor affecting performance, so it is incredibly impactful to nurture empathetic relationships between managers and employees.

Add innovative benefits

There are plenty of job perks that make it easier to work harder.

One seemingly revolutionary tactic installed at large firms such as Netflix and small startups alike is unlimited vacation for exempt employees. This flexible tactic may actually reduce the number of vacation days taken, while eliminating the need to pay out for unused vacation hours in certain situations.

There are other cost-effective ways to offer benefits that differentiate your company from other employers. Vendor agreements that give your employees discounts to health clubs, spas, dry cleaning services and other self-care areas won’t break the bank on the way to making your people feel you are invested in their well-being.

“Employers are increasingly more creative with their job offerings—creative flexible hours, working from home, monetary incentives, and unique perks and benefits,” said David Salinas, C2FO’s global talent acquisition partner. “In short, candidates today have more options than they did in years past.” 

A final word

The way to hire and retain talent is to offer a clear cooperative vision for the development of the individual within the organization, and to make them feel like you are just as committed to their future as they are.

Recent studies suggest that today’s younger employees work harder and for less money than same-age workers were before the financial crash. That sounds like a good deal for employees, but the cost is building a new model of employment based on trust, strong values and partnership.